How many store events do you have planned and on your calendar right now? Retailing in 2018 means you have to do more than stock shelves and ring up sales – shoppers are increasingly asking retailers for experiences as they shop. “Shoppertainment” is a critical component to the in-store experience, and so that means that planning events should be on the top of your to-do list. Experts say you should have at least one large event a month, and two or three smaller events. Major events such as recycling events and supplier/vendor events for contractors will attract larger numbers of people to your store; smaller events like classes or demos will attract a smaller group of shoppers. All events require careful planning and execution. Here’s how to get started.
Don’t Get Confused – Promotions and sales are not events. Of course you will continue to run sales by themselves, but events are something that should have a certain “wow” factor. Events can be combined with promotions and sales, but should be something you promote to attract customers that might not normally shop in your store as well as your loyal customers.
Get it Planned – Don’t overlook the people who work for you as a great resource for ideas! Have quarterly event-planning team meetings and have your associates help you plan events for each month in that quarter. Events should be planned at least 3-4 months in advance. Your associates may have attended events at other stores that will give you ideas, and many heads are always better than one, right? As you plan, keep the following questions in mind:
- What do I want to accomplish with this event – more sales, new customers, email list building? Plan accordingly.
- Will new customers come back after this event? Should I give away “come again” gift cards for a future purchase?
- Will my loyal regular customers be interested in this event?
- How will this event affect my brand’s reputation? Make sure you can handle everyone who will attend and that you will have enough food, drinks, etc., because a poorly executed event could damage your reputation.
- Should I run a sale/promotion along with this event?
Save the Dates – Create a monthly calendar with all of your events on it. Make a paper version to hand out in the store, and a digital version to post online and in social media. Make your calendar colorful and eye-catching.
Designate Your Planner – If you don’t plan on doing the foot-work to get events off the ground yourself, designate an associate your trust to make the events happen. There are many details that need to be attended to, especially for major events. Have your Event Planner create a ‘planning calendar” for you and themselves with due dates for accomplishing everything – booking caterers, choosing music, advertising, promotional collateral and giveaways, booking experts/artists/vendors for demos and classes, sales/promotions you will have in concurrence with your event, etc. You may need to purchase additional inventory, also. Weekly meetings with your Planner are a must, to stay on top of the to-do’s for each event.
Make it Count – Effective promotion of your events will be key. Plan to do ads, social media posts, email blasts, in-store promotion (see Save the Dates above), store signage, etc. If no one knows about the event, it will do you no good! Events that will also benefit the community such as recycling events may qualify for local newspaper/radio/television coverage. You won’t know if you don’t ask!
Follow Up – In your quarterly planning team meetings, find out from associates what went well at past events and what didn’t go well, and then you can plan on how you can improve each of the events you hold. Always try to do it better next time!
Shoppers of today are all about the “experience” of shopping. Letting people know you care about them and the shopping experiences you are providing for them is one of the best ways to cultivate customer loyalty, and also to cultivate new customers. It’s all about the “wow” factor these days, so get busy planning those store events!